Governor should grant amnesty 
for War-on-Drugs pot casualties

Marijuana madness may be over, but thousands of Coloradans are still paying the price for their “crime” of possessing relatively small quantities of weed.

As the War on Drugs fizzles and recreational marijuana hits the market, Coloradans should find it troubling that so many of our young people have had their lives ruined for an activity now legal in the state. They did break the law, but, particularly in retrospect, we should ask: Did the punishment fit the crime?

Statistics compiled for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project in New York City say it does not. The research was conducted by Henry G. Lavine, professor of sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York; Loren Siegel, attorney and media and communications consultant; and Jon B. Gettman, professor of Criminal Justice at Winchester College in Virginia.

Lavine and Siegel are the directors of the research project, which studies “race, police policy and the growing number of arrests for marijuana possession and other petty offenses.” The data for this study came from federal records, mainly those of the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Thanks to draconian mandatory sentencing laws imposed by Congress, judges in thousands of cases were allowed little or no discretion in the cruel sentences handed down to small-time offenders caught in the War on Drugs.

Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to the American Bar Association in San Francisco last August, criticized the federal sentencing guidelines as being both “ineffective and unsustainable.”

“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long for no truly good law enforcement reasons,” he said. Later in his speech, he added, “We cannot simply prosecute or incarcerate our way to becoming a safer country.”

In order for minor drug offenders to evade federal sentencing guidelines, Holder said, “The Department of Justice will now instruct prosecutors to side-step federal sentencing rules by not recording the amount of drugs found on non-violent dealers not associated with larger gangs or cartels.”

It is unfortunate that this humane policy was not in effect at the state level over the past 25 years, when arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Colorado rose from 4,000 in 1986 to 10,500 per year. Over the decade from 2001 to 2010, Colorado counties and municipalities arrested 108,000 offenders for marijuana possession.

Until the people of Colorado changed the law to make recreational marijuana legal, possession of it, even in small quantities, was a Class 2 petty offense. Although these are the least-serious criminal charges, they do require court appearances and can result in fines, community service or possibly a short jail term.

In many cases, the most punishing aspect of a marijuana possession conviction comes after the legal ritual of crime and punishment. Although a minor charge, a Class 2 petty offense nevertheless leave the offender with a criminal record.

As the Marijuana Arrest Project reports, “These arrests diminish the life chances of the mostly young Coloradans who are caught with small amounts of marijuana, there is no evidence that the arrests diminish the overall crime rate or marijuana use rates. There are no studies showing that arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana reduce serious or violent crimes. And marijuana use rates in Colorado have remained relatively stable in recent years, despite the increase in possession arrests.”

Article IV, Section 7 of the Colorado Constitution gives the governor the “power to grant ... pardons after conviction for all offenses except treason.”

“A general amnesty for incarcerated non-violent drug offenders would open the way to a new approach based on truth and reconciliation principles and restorative justice methods, instead of retribution and punishment,” wrote Ernest Drucker of Columbia University and former United Kingdom drug czar Mike Trace in a widely circulated article.

The governor cannot erase the harm done by unjust, and unjustly administered, criminal sanctions for minor marijuana offenders, but he could mitigate the effects on lives going forward by commuting the sentences of those still serving sentences and pardoning those who have completed their sentences and returned to life outside the prison walls.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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PART 1. Well, mirabile dictu! The blind squirrel (aka Bill Grant) finally got one right! Will wonders never cease? Of course, so-called “leftist” Grant’s most recent offering leaves all the Government-101-challenged anti-pot so-called “right wingers” gritting their teeth “for the children”. (Gee! I thought “for the children” was a leftist talking point so teachers’ unions could get more money.)
To give both “sides” in the stupid-human pecking order struggle some food for thought seemed appropriate to celebrate this rare occasion. Hence a little lesson on the subject of Government 101.
Control over the Other (aka “government”) is irreconcilable with self-ownership (aka “individual freedom”). That’s just happens to be a self-evident reality in the material universe around us. After having personally witnessed heaps of burnt dead bodies in WW2, that was what J.R.R. Tolkien was trying to get through our thick heads with his ingenious metaphor of the One Ring in his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy: One-Ring government Power (over the Other) is inherently evil and inevitably corrupting.
Here’s how government power works (or, rather, doesn’t work): The same “government” — (there is no such real thing, only the dominant members of the stupid human pecking order struggle who like to call themselves by that deceptive euphemism) — which can persecute you for saying the “F” expletive can persecute you for saying the word “God” or the words “Jesus love you”. Why? Easy. In your mind, despite the Founders’ 1st Amendment, you gave them the power to control speech because “rightists” didn’t like hearing other people saying the “F” word and “leftists” didn’t like hearing other people say the “G” or “J” words.
The same government that can kick down your door and throw you in jail for having a marijuana cigarette can kick down your door and throw you in jail for hiding some of your hard-earned wage-slave money under your mattress instead of happily giving it to the tax collector. Or kick down your door and shoot you because they suspect you might have been driving drunk. Why? Easy. Because in your mind you gave them the power to ignore the Founders’ 4th and 5th Amendments when dealing with the kinds of people you don’t like. In other words, whether “left” or “right”, you’re the kind of idiot to whom the Bill of Rights, procedural due process, presumption of innocence (genuine presumption, not the false pretense extolled by rote to jury pools by court personnel) and rules of evidence mean absolutely nothing from a practical point of view. You just want “bad people” you don’t like to “get theirs”, whether you dislike people who smoke marijuana or you dislike “rich people” who don’t want to give “poor people” more tax money for “freebies”.

PART 2. Instead of referring to the “other guy’s” ideas you disagree with as “hate” speech and asking the manipulative government psychopaths to control his speech or throw him in jail, how about just dropping all the cutesy little rhetorical manipulations and engage in direct speech. “How do we do this?” you might ask. Easy. Drive so-called “political correctness” out of the American culture and language.
“Leftist” omedian George Carlin said, “Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict [authoritarian] codes and rules… Political correctness cripples discourse, creates ugly language and is generally stupid.” (Are you listening, Bill Grant?) I couldn’t agree more.
George Orwell said, “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia…”
“One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.”
George Orwell proposed speech rules I like:
“(1) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(2) Never us a long word where a short one will do.
(3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(4) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(5) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word — (e.g. legalese, politicalese, bureaucratese, banksterese, etc. – JW) — if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(6) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.”

PART 3.  The main problem with so-called “government” which both Left and Right so love to try to use against each other is the inherent unworkability of the “mind-of-A-controlling-the-body-of-B” paradigm, which I call the “Government Glitch.” The reality-based definition of the word is: “Government” = person or group A coercing (via a “legal” monopoly on violence and terrorism) person or group B to obey the will of A on pain of loss of life, liberty, and property. “501(c)(3) church” = political pecking order organized to brainwash individuals into believing the lies that the thievery and murder perpetrated by “secular” so-called “government” are the “will of God.” Case in point? Imperialistic beheader Islam and its manifest attendant barbarism.
The reason so-called “government” does not work, indeed cannot EVER be sustainable, is because when the mind of A is allowed to control the body (physical labor) of B, there is no end to the wants, demands, and expectations of A’s mind. When “in Power,” the mind of A’s wants, demands, and expectations are not restricted by the reality-based physical limitations of A’s body to produce all those wants, demands, and expectations for itself. It eventually becomes lazy, greedy and crazy.  If not “in Power,” then the mind of A’s wants, demands, and expectations are restricted by the reality-based physical limitations of A’s body to produce all those wants, demands, and expectations for itself. And the mind of A remains sane.
This fact is why self-sufficiency is vastly preferable to interdependency as both a virtue and a political theory. Ultimately, it is also the reason why, in the long run, no economy can function unless it is composed of willing buyers and willing sellers in a free market. That is the one and only way to determine the fair “value” of A’s labor as expressed in terms of B’s labor. It is mechanically and arithmetically impossible for any person or group to be smart enough to set wages and prices for the happiness and prosperity of all.
“What is the moral to your little sermonette?” both leftists and rightists might ask. Simple. If you don’t want the fear mongering, loot-and-pillage, control-freak psychopaths who call themselves “government” to run your life, steal your labor, spy on you or kick down your door and shoot you, don’t give them the “legal” political power to hassle the “other guy” with whom you disagree. Debate your ideas in an intellectually honest and non-manipulative way using clear and direct language instead of wannabe-clever left-vs-right talking points.
At the end of the day, a truly free, open and transparent society based on the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights with their traditional Golden Rule morality is the best thing any “compassionate” and “caring” person can do “for the children”.

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